US 6102252 A
A collapsible container comprising a flexible bag including a spout having an opening through which liquid is fed into and dispensed from the bag, and a liquid passage member inside of the bag in liquid communication with the spout opening for aiding in the dispensing of liquid from the bag. The liquid passage member is preferably integral with a wall of the bag.
1. A disposable, flexible bag for use in containing and dispensing a liquid, said bag being flat in an unfilled condition thereof, comprising:
a bag wall;
a spout having a spout opening therethrough attached to said bag wall and having a longitudinal axis substantially perpendicular to said bag wall when said bag is empty and before it is filled with liquid; and
an elongated liquid passage member secured inside of said bag and having at least one liquid channel formed along at least a portion thereof in liquid communication with said spout opening, said liquid passage member lying substantially flat within said bag and being disposed substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of said spout when the bag is empty and before said bag is filled with liquid.
2. The article of claim 1 wherein said elongated liquid passage member includes at least one pair of spaced-apart ribs defining said liquid channel.
3. The article of claim 2 wherein said ribs are parallel to each other and extend in a straight line between the ends of said member and across said spout opening when said bag is in an empty, pre-filled condition.
4. The article of claim 1 wherein at least one end of said liquid passage member is heat sealed in said bag.
5. The article of claim 1 wherein said bag wall includes two separate bag walls with their peripheral portions heat sealed together.
6. The article of claim 5 wherein at least one end of said liquid passage member is heat sealed to a periphery of said bag between said two separate bag walls as said bag walls are heat sealed together.
7. A collapsible bag for holding and dispensing a liquid comprising:
said bag having an interior and comprising a wall having an opening therethrough in communication with said interior, said bag lying flat and said opening having an axis substantially perpendicular to said wall before said bag is filled with liquid; and
a fluid passage member having at least one fluid passageway, said fluid passage member secured to said bag in said interior thereof with said fluid member lying substantially perpendicular to said axis of said opening before said bag is filled with liquid.
8. The article of claim 7 wherein said bag further comprises a spout attached to said wall, said spout defining said opening.
9. The article of claim 7 wherein said fluid passage member extends across at least a portion of said opening as the bag collapses during withdrawal of liquid from the bag such that said fluid passageway is maintained in liquid communication with said opening as said bag collapses.
10. The article of claim 7 wherein said fluid passage member is attached to a periphery of said bag.
11. The article of claim 7 wherein said fluid passage member is heat sealed to said bag.
12. The article of claim 11 wherein at least one end of said fluid passage member is heat sealed to a periphery of said bag.
13. The article of claim 7 wherein said fluid passage member comprises at least one rib formed along at least a portion thereof.
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/991,710, which was a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 07/119,034 filed on Nov. 10, 1987, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 5,749,493 which was a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 06/542,322, filed Oct. 17, 1983 (now abandoned)
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to collapsible sealed containers to dispense liquid products, and more particularly to a flexible conduit incorporated in such a collapsible container.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Many exemplary collapsible containers are available in the prior art which permit the extraction of the product from a container. Most of the containers use conventional dip tubes including an elongated cylindrical tube which includes an upper portion connected to a valve and a lower portion positioned within the product to be extracted from the container. For example, Daniels, U.S. Pat. No. 3,171,571 discloses a conventional bag-in-box type of dispensing package including a dip tube.
Another example of a dip tube position within a flexible bag is disclosed by Kramer, et al. U.S. Pat. No. 2,859,899. The dip tube includes perforations through which the syrup or other material positioned within the flexible bag is sucked therefrom by means of a pump. U.S. Pat. No. 4,286,636 to Credle discloses a collapsible bag with an extruded dip tube including at least one channel in the peripheral surface of the dip tube and extending along substantially the entire length of the dip tube. As a vacuum or suction is applied to the dip tube by a pump, initially all of the air within the collapsible bag is extracted therefrom. Subsequently, the liquid product is dispensed out of the collapsible bag and the bag collapses around a portion of the dip tube which is no longer surrounded by the liquid product.
One of the disadvantages of the prior art collapsible containers including dip tubes is that they require the insertion of a dip tube, and thus of an additional step in the manufacture of the filled container. Additionally, because of the geometry of the dip tube and the collapsible container, the insertion of the dip tube could not be handled through automated means, but rather requires manual insertion.
Accordingly, it is a primary objective of the present invention to provide an internal flexible conduit for a collapsible container comprising a pair of rib members extending along substantially the entire length of the collapsible container.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a conduit which can be integrally formed on the interior surface of the collapsible container.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a flexible conduit for a collapsible bag which can be inserted during the formation of the bag and requires no manipulative steps after filling of the collapsible container.
The objects of the present invention are fulfilled by providing at least one pair of flexible substantially parallel rib members disposed adjacent to an interior wall of the collapsible container. The flexible rib members are positioned within a collapsible bag and substantially adjacent to an annular spout member. Initially, air within the collapsible bag will be drawn therefrom. Subsequently, the liquid product disposed within the collapsible bag will flow through a channel formed by the adjacent ribs and the collapsible bag will collapse around the rib members. Progressively, as the liquid product is removed from the collapsible bag, the bag will continue to collapse around the rib members until all of the liquid product is dispensed therefrom.
A further aspect of the present invention is that the rib members can be disposed on a web which can be disposed between two flexible sheets which comprise a collapsible bag during the manufacture of the bag. The major advantage of this development is that it avoids substantial manipulative steps both in the manufacture and assembling of the collapsible container and in the filling and use of the bag.
Further scope of applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description given hereafter. However, it should be understood that the detailed description of the invention and the specific examples, while indicating preferred embodiments of the invention are given by way of illustration only, since various changes and modifications within the spirit of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this detailed description.
The present invention will be more filly understood from the detailed description below when read in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements and wherein:
FIG. 1 is an isometric, partially cut away front side view of a collapsible bag according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross sectional partial view of the collapsible bag including an annular spout adjacent to which are disposed a plurality of ribs according to the present invention;
FIG. 3 is an exploded view of an embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 4 is a lateral cross sectional view of a collapsible bag which illustrates the operation of the invention.
The present invention is directed to a collapsible container 10 which is used to dispense a liquid product therefrom. The collapsible container may be used in combination with a post-mix beverage system. Such a post-mix beverage system, which is hereby incorporated by reference, is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,014,461, issued Mar. 29, 1977 to Harvill and assigned to the same assignee as the present invention.
As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the collapsible container 10 is made of a pair of sheets of flexible material 12 and 14 joined together at their respective peripheries 16 and 18. The flexible sheets are joined in a sealed relationship through out the periphery and in the case of flexible sheets made of thermoplastic material, this may be a seal achieved by means of heat sealing or suitable adhesive. The collapsible bag 10 includes an annular spout, or bag fitment 20 disposed through the flexible sheet 12 and attached thereto by means of an annular flange 22. The annular spout 20 may be of any desired geometry which can be adapted to fit into a coupling for a suction system. Indeed as would be obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art, the annular spout 20 may be any shape including non-annular. As shown in more detail in FIG. 2, the flexible sheets 12 and 14 may comprise a number of plys, e.g. 24 and 26. In the preferred embodiment, two plys are used. Ply 24 is a web of 2 mil. EVA disposed adjacent to second ply 26 which is a bonded web made up of the following three sheets: 2 mil. EVA, 1/2 mil. metalized PET, and a 2 mil. EVA.
The collapsible container 10 of the present invention includes at least one pair of ribs 30 disposed through the length of the collapsible container 10, shown in FIG. 1, and in relation to the annular spout 20 so that the pair of ribs 30 passes substantially adjacent to, and in line with the opening 21 of the annular spout 20. Although a pair of ribs is described, a single rib or protrusion 30 of sufficient height would be sufficient to achieve the objectives of the invention, although not as efficiently as a pair of ribs. The ribs 30 are slight protrusions which are closely spaced together. The ribs 30 may be extruded onto the flexible sheet 14, or in the case of a two ply sheet, on the inner layer 24.
In the preferred embodiment, the ribs 30 are disposed on the flexible sheet opposite to the flexible sheet where the annular spout 20 is attached. However, the present invention will also encompass the placement of the ribs on the flexible sheet on which the annular spout 20 is disposed, which although not as efficient, also can provide significant advantages over the system shown in the prior art.
As illustrated in FIG. 3 another embodiment of the present invention includes a web strip 34 including at least one pair of ribs 30 disposed between the flexible sheets 12 and 14 and adjacent to, and in line with, the annular spout 20. The web strip 34 should be made of compatible material with the flexible sheets 12 and 14. For example, if the interior ply of the sheets 12 and 14 is made out of EVA then the web strip 34 should be made of EVA or compatible material (e.g. low density polyethylene). The web strip 34 is attached to the flexible sheets 12 and 14 during the formation of the bag, when the adjacent sheets are secured at their periphery, thus, for example, heat sealing of the adjacent flexible sheets 12 and 14 will also achieve the heat sealing and fixation of the flexible strip web 34. Illustrated in FIG. 4 is the operation of the ribs 30. As the flexible container 10 collapses, it has a tendency to collapse somewhat unevenly, leaving pockets of liquid which may become isolated from the rest of the liquid in the container. The ribs 30 form a conduit which cannot be closed off by the atmospheric pressure on the walls of the flexible sheets 12 and 14. Thus, the entire inner chamber of the flexible bag remains in communication with the spout 20 at all times during the operation.
The invention being thus described, it will be obvious that the same may be varied in many ways such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention, and all such modifications as would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art are intended to be included within the scope of the following claims.